New Google product categories in ePages – important changes for merchants on September 22

by Volker Schwarz, 23.08.11

On September 22, 2011 Google Shopping will change its guidelines. Products that you would like to continue to have listed in the Google product search in Germany, UK, France and the USA will require additional information for the Google product categories after this cut-off date. If product data is transferred to Google without this information it will no longer be listed in the Google product search. The ePages blog will explain what you need to do to fulfill Google’s requirements in order to still be able to sell via Google Shopping after September 22.

The specification of a product category is only required for specific types of products. However, Google recommends doing this for all other products as well. Starting on September 22, 2011, it will be mandatory for the following types of products: apparel, shoes, accessories, books, DVDs & movies, music, software for video games. Incidentally: You can find all information about the planned changes on the following information page from Google.
Creating the new "Google product category" attribute
Do the products in your shop belong to one of the categories mentioned above? Then you should specify the appropriate Google product categories in the back office of your shop so that your offerings are not discarded from the Google Shopping index on September 22, 2011.
We have adapted the ePages shop software accordingly. The necessary hot fixes required for this will be rolled out in due time, before September 22 for all ePages providers. It is very simple to check whether your shop has already been adapted. In your back office, simply go to the "Marketing/Product portal" menu and then to the "Google Shopping United Kingdom" entry.
If the update has already been installed in your shop, you will see three new items on the General tab in the "This is how to publish your products with Google" listing, which describe the new process how to add the "google product categories". Usually, they appear on the end of the list.
You can now start to make the necessary changes. What do you have to do?
Have you checked on the Google website linked above (which you can also reach in your back office using the link on item 10) whether your products require the additional entry? Then click on the "Create attribute now" link in item 11. This will take you directly to the settings for the "Standard" product type. All changes that you make here will also affect the other product types you have created. Alternatively, you can reach the "Standard" product type at any time via the "Products/Product types" menu.
For the product type "Standard", now create a new attribute with the label "Google_Product_Category" and select "Language-dependent text" as the type. You can enter every name you have selected into the "Name" column. Click on Save to create an identical attribute for all other product types of your shop in one step.
To ensure that the attribute is used only in Google’s data feed and is not displayed to your customers in your shop, click on the newly created entry after saving and select "Visibility: No" in the settings.
Updating the specified product categories
The correct Google product categories now need to be updated for each of the affected products. To determine what these are, go back to the information page from Google mentioned above. If you scroll down a little, you will find an interactive listing of all available Google product categories under the "Browse The Taxonomy" item.
Click through until you get to the appropriate category of the product that you would like to edit. In our example, this was "Flip-Flops". Using the small arrow buttons in the table, click to expand the tree "Apparel & Accessories, Shoes, Sandals" until you get to "Flip-Flops". There, click on the entry and in the box above the table. You will then see the corresponding path of the category in the way that Google would like to have it entered. Copy the path from the box "Text" (Important: Do not use the entry from the "XML" box).
Make sure you  select the information together with the quotes at start and finish and then copy this to the clipboard by right-clicking the mouse.
Now switch to the product in the back office that you would like to specify the category for. In its settings, on the "General/Attributes" tab, you will now find the new input field for the Google product category. Insert the content you copied in the previous step here.

Unfortunately it is not possible to sort a product to more than one category. Information that it can be done on the google information page are outdated.
Does your shop also supply product data to Google Shopping in the UK, France or the USA? Then you will also need to enter the required language entry for these. To do this, switch the language on the linked Google information page above and obtain the category path again. Now enter this into the corresponding language field in your shop.
Now click on "Save" and this product will then be listed by Google Shopping in the set category after September 22.
Repeat this procedure for each product in the above-listed categories for which Google expects a product category.
Note: If you have product variants in your shop, you only need to specify the Google product category for the master product. The product variants will then be filled out automatically.
Fast editing of multiple products via Import/Export
In the ePages blog, you will find detailed instructions which explain how you can export product data into Open Office, edit it and then import it again. This allows you to save valuable time since you can make multiple changes in just one step.
Please note: Read the article about importing/exporting carefully before working with this function, and follow the advice provided there (particularly the information about Open Office and Excel) to prevent any data loss!
How can you now best use the "Open Office Calc" spreadsheet calculation, to quickly and easily insert Google product categories?
First, export your product data via the "Products/Import/Export" menu. Now import the CSV file into the spreadsheet calculation as described in the linked blog entry.
Switch on the autofilter in the "Data/Filter/AutoFilter" menu item in "Open Office Calc".
In column A, you can now display the individual product types of your shop in the uppermost cell to be able to edit them accordingly. In our example, we will display only products of the type "Shoe".
Now scroll to the right until you find the column [Google_Product_Category/en]. Here, you enter the respective Google product category path, which you have copied from the Google info page, for all shoes. In our example, this would be the path to "Flip-Flops" or to the respective other matching shoe types.
Does your shop also supply product data to Google Shopping in the Germany, France or the USA? Then you will also need to enter the required language entry for these. For Google Shopping in Germany, the table has the [Google_Product_Category/de] heading, for example. In order to obtain the required information for the respective language, switch the language on the Google information page linked in this entry above and obtain the category path again.
If you are finished with the product category, you can switch the filter in column A and edit the next category accordingly.
Have you entered all required data? Then all that’s left to do is to switch off the autofilter and save the table again as CSV. Lastly, import the file into your shop again and all changes will be made for the products that you have modified.
Finished! Your products should now be listed on Google Shopping as expected after September 22, 2011.

About the author

studied German, History and Politics at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. From 2004 to 2009 he worked as a freelancer for several marketing and communications companies in Hamburg, including e-commerce companies. Between August 2009 and December 2011, he worked as an online editor at ePages .

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